As Bob Baldwin grows in stature within the realm of smooth jazz musicians, Narada Jazz has snapped him up and now has produced his first CD. Accompanying his move and his g…
As Bob Baldwin grows in stature within the realm of smooth jazz musicians, Narada Jazz has snapped him up and now has produced his first CD. Accompanying his move and his growth, Baldwin is reclassifying his music, calling it "Neo-Jazz," which may be a matter of definition rather than transition. All of the elements that listeners expect of Baldwin are intact, even within the new definition. Things like combining funk with contemporary jazz keyboarding, catchy song titles, thematic unity and earnest application of personal meaning to his music.Bobbaldwin.com
found humanity within the technological revolution that was upon us in the late 1990’s, and not so coincidentally it promoted his web site for further information about him and his music. Baldwin’s last album, The American Spirit,
again made a statement about an important impact upon American life--this time renewed patriotism. Emblazoned the front of the CD package is an unfurled American flag held aloft by 4 children of varying ethnic groups and included songs like "Color Blind," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "God Bless America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
This time, Baldwin is standing tall and is fervently encouraging his listeners to do so as well with songs like "Stand Tall." Yet, Standing Tall’s
tracks involve a wider range of emotions and human experiences than his previous albums, and they bring shared musical feelings down to a personal level involving, well, romance, for one. Just as interesting is the fact that Baldwin includes nods to two of his revered influences: Roy Ayers, who performs on "Everybody Loves The Sunshine," and Joe Sample, the inspiration for "Mr. Sample," not to mention for an entire style of playing that Baldwin refers to.
Mixing it up with a cross-section of sounds and moods, Baldwin invites some of his long-time friends, like Phil Perry, or his regular associates, like Marion Meadows, to share in the musical experience of standing tall. The most memorable song on the CD, "Too Late," receives two renditions, one as a vocal with Phil Perry repeating the phrase almost as frequently as would The Mad Hatter before diverging into soulful, falsetto exclamation elaborating upon the theme of departure. At the end of the CD, Baldwin returns to the theme as a closing and memorable thought until next time.
"Neo-Jazz" gives a sense of what Baldwin means by the term, in this case a reassuring keyboard improvisation over a backbeat. Just as interesting is "See You In Miami," on which trumpeter Ray Vega contributes middle-register urgency, if not fire, as Baldwin shows how a smooth-jazz bounce can animate the lightly Latin rhythm provided by drummer Lil’ John Roberts.
Once again, Baldwin has created music that is not just accessible, but that reaches out to people so that they take away significance and uplift once the CD is finished.